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Vince scores 10 of his 23 in key third quarter

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- After easily dispatching the Utah
Jazz, the New Jersey Nets turned their focus to a crucial target --
the Indiana Pacers.

Vince Carter scored 10 of his 23 points in the pivotal third
quarter, and Jason Kidd had 10 points, nine assists and eight
rebounds to lead the Nets past the Jazz 94-80 Friday night.

The Nets won their third straight to stay in reach of an Eastern
Conference playoff spot. They next face the Indiana Pacers, one of
the teams they hope to catch, in a home-and-home series starting
Sunday in Indianapolis.

"We've got to make the push," Carter said. "We're right
there. We're right in the mix. I think the energy and the effort is
there."

The Nets will head into the showdown well rested, as Carter and
Kidd sat out the fourth quarter with New Jersey firmly in command.

"Any time Vince and I can have a fourth quarter off, it's
good," Kidd said. "It means we're playing well."

Travis Best had 14 points, Brian Scalabrine 12, Nenad Krstic 11
and Zoran Planinic 10 in the Nets well-balanced attack.

Andrei Kirilenko led Utah with 15 points as the Jazz dropped
their eighth straight game. Matt Harpring had 14, and Mehmet Okur
and Kirk Snyder each had 12.

"One of the toughest things to do is to stay focused,"
Harpring said. "You've got to take pride in your work, and we've
got to get back to playing hard."

Utah managed to keep the game close until midway through the
third quarter when New Jersey reeled off 11 straight points for a
62-47 lead. Carter had six points in the run on a driving layup and
four free throws.

After Harpring scored for Utah, Scalabrine scored the next six
points to give New Jersey a 68-49 lead. The Nets outscored the Jazz
27-12 in the period for a 70-52 advantage.

"We're too quick to drop our heads," Curtis Borchardt said.
"Right now, we don't have any confidence."

The Nets sprinted to a 15-6 lead behind Krstic's six points and
held a 22-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Jazz regrouped in the second, outscoring the Nets 24-21.
Utah took the lead for the second time when Kirilenko hit an
18-foot jumper with 1:24 remaining for a 38-37 lead. Carter scored
the next two baskets on a jumper and a dunk to put New Jersey back
in front, and the Nets held a 43-40 lead at the half.

Game notes
Nets forward-center Jason Collins played in his 300th game.
... The Nets improved to 21-20 since Carter debuted on Dec. 27. ...
Kirilenko, the league's top shot blocker, had four. ... The game
was the fourth of a five-game road trip for the Jazz. ... Carter
scored 20 or more points in 29 of his last 31 games.